PUTRAJAYA: The request from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to include six words in the amendment of Article 1(2) of the Federal Constitution is “unreasonable” and legally not possible, says Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
The de facto Law Minister said the government had sought the Attorney-General’s advice on the request and was told that this was not possible.
In a letter dated April 8, a day before the tabling of the amendment, GPS had proposed that the wording in Article 1 include “pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963”.
The whole article would read as “The states in the Federation shall be, pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963, be – (a) Malaya (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Selangor and Terengganu); and (b) the Borneo States of Sabah and Sarawak”.
“They had asked for the six words to be included and because this was not met, the 19 MPs from Sarawak abstained from voting, causing the amendment to fail as we could not get the required two-thirds majority.
“We sought advice from the A-G and were informed that the request was constitutionally not possible.
“It would complicate matters because if we say ‘pursuant to the Malaysia Agreement 1963’, then it must also be mentioned that Singapore was part of the 1963 agreement, and also the fact they had left the Federation in 1965,” said Liew at a press conference here to clarify the issue.
He said the explanatory statement details the reasons for the article’s amendment and was also legally binding.
“Some GPS MPs claimed that no one read the explanatory note and that it should be in the main article. That is such a childish argument. The explanatory statement is binding to the law,” he said.
Liew also said it was baffling why GPS was insistent on having the six words included in the amendment when it was never in place back in 1963 and 1976.
“Our founding fathers did not see the necessity to include the words, so why now?” he said.
When asked if the government would make a fresh attempt to table the amendment again, Liew said it would not be “so soon”.
“They (GPS) accused the government of pushing for the amendment in a hurry, so we are not in a hurry to retable this amendment,” he said.
During the bloc voting for the amendment in the Dewan Rakyat, Pakatan only managed to secure 138 votes while 59 MPs, including 19 from Sarawak, abstained from voting.
Meanwhile, opposition and independent MPs from Sabah, namely Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (Kota Marudu), Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (Keningau), Arthur Kurup (Pensiangan) and Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (Kimanis) voted in support of the amendment.
Only Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin abstained from voting.
Liew said 16 MPs were recorded as absent, including four from Pakatan.
They were Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, who is MP for Simpang Renggam, Deputy Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin (Hang Tuah Jaya), Noor Amin Ahmad (Kangar) and Muslimin Yahaya (Sungai Besar).